i love cliches.

when i was a kid living out in the void space between red bluff and cottonwood in northern california1 i did not have a great deal of entertainment at hand. sure we had both cbs and pbs (but in the mid-eighties that was not saying much). in between exploring the outdoors and my chores, i spent a good deal of my time reading. mostly the set of encyclopedias that took space in our den. i had a personal goal to read every volume and retain as much information as i possibly could. and as most who know me can attest, i am a fiend for information. i love it. it fills my bucket like few things do2.

as such i am known to search the internet for random things. okay so it is not random and i may or may not keep an evernote file full of things that i want to look up or research and read up on. today i decided to look up why cliches exist. it was fun, but tremendously uninformative (in the sense that no immediate source of information was even remotely useful, academic, or readily apparent). i screamed a cry of joy inside—the idea of a cliche has itself become a cliche! because you know, cliches exists for a reason – they, after all, are based in truth (or at the very least describe reality).

if that is the case then, why do so many writers/bloggers/pundits out there do so much to speak out against the use of cliches (simply do a search for the word cliche and you will see as many posts about avoiding them as anything else)? why is it seen as generally bad in business to use cliches in how we talk? why is there a general sense of unoriginality if we use cliches? why am i asking so many questions about cliches? is that cliche?

so today (without context or segue) i offer to use ten cliches that may or may not be futile if your workplace:

  1. “work smarter, not harder”
  2. “ask for forgiveness not permission”
  3. “failure is not an option”
  4. “think outside the box”
  5. “eat your own dog food”
  6. “do not reinvent the wheel”
  7. “paradigm shift”
  8. “step up to the plate”
  9. “at the end of the day”
  10. “put lipstick on a pig”

1: the author is fully aware that both red bluff and cottonwood california can both be considered void spaces. this illustration was used specifically to show that where the author lived was truly out in the middle of what some would call nowhere, but since everywhere is actually somewhere, he felt it best to label the area as void.

2: at some point i am going to expand on why wikipedia is like porn for intellectuals: it is highly addictive, it consumes vast quantities of time, and it gives a skewed view of reality and relationships that can be potentially destructive. thankfully i married someone who seeks information as fervently as i do.


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